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Rangers hope to keep rolling against Panthers

by Dave Lozo

PANTHERS (8-16-6) at RANGERS (15-12-2)


Last 10: Florida 2-7-1; New York 6-4-0

Season series : This is the first of three meetings.

Big story: The season is all but lost in Florida – the Panthers are 10 points back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference and 12 points behind the Southeast-leading Winnipeg Jets. The Rangers, however, have won back-to-back games to pull themselves into eighth place in the East. There are no free wins in the NHL, but the Rangers can’t let two points slip away against the League’s 30th-place team.

Team scope:

Panthers: March has been rough for Florida. The Panthers are 2-7-1 in 10 games this month and have allowed at least four goals in five games and have scored two goals or fewer in eight games.

But the Panthers enter Madison Square Garden coming off a 4-1 road victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. All four goals came in the third period after the Hurricanes lost three defensemen during the first two periods to injury.

"We could tell they were getting tired, minute by minute, and our forechecking, that's what got us the first goal," Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann said. "And then we just, I would say, played better than them and better physically."

Rangers: After a four-game stretch in which they didn’t score more than one goal in a game, the Rangers broke out for three goals Tuesday in a 3-2 road win against the New Jersey Devils.

It was the Rangers’ second straight win after losing three in a row.

"Guys are getting more confidence back," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We're getting back to playing the style we want to play. It shows on the ice. It's two points, and now we have to move on."

Who’s hot: Panthers forward Shawn Matthias has three goals in his past five games.

Injury report: Florida forward George Parros (upper body) is day-to-day, while goalie Jose Theodore (groin), defensemen Michael Caruso (wrist), Mike Weaver (lower body) and Dmitry Kulikov (wrist) and forwards Scottie Upshall (lower body), Stephen Weiss (wrist) and Kris Versteeg (knee) are on injured reserve. … For the Rangers, defenseman Marc Staal (eye) is out indefinitely and forward Arron Asham (back) has been practicing, but has been out more than a month.

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